Wills, Probate & Trusts
Our Wills, Probate & Trusts Services Include:
» Probate & Decedent’s Estates
» Powers of Attorneys
» Advance Medical Directives
» Trusts for Minors
» Revocable (Living) Trusts
» Special Needs Trusts
» Trust Modification & Reformation
» Trustee Advice & Representation
» Trust Administration
» Taxation of Inheritances
Wills, Trusts & Estate Planning
One of the most important and difficult decisions facing each of us is how to plan and provide for our family members and loved ones after our death.
Many decisions need to be made to assure a cost-effective and problem-free passing of assets.
Who will handle my affairs?
How can I be sure my assets pass as I intend?
How can I avoid or reduce the risk of unpleasant conflicts among my heirs?
What should be done to avoid or reduce death taxes?
How can I be sure that assets are not squandered by a beneficiary or seized by a creditor or ex-spouse?
Can I leave a bequest for a disabled child or grandchild without impairing their eligibility for government benefits?
Do I need a trust, or is a Will sufficient?
Powers of Attorney and Advance Directives for Health Care Decisions form a fundamental part of even the most basic estate plan. Wills only become effective after death, but in the event of a debilitating injury or illness, your family will be called upon to produce a Power of Attorney to prove who has legal authority to handle your personal finances while you are unable to do so yourself.
The hospital will likewise request a copy of the Advance Directive to verify who is authorized to act as your health care agent. The failure to have an effective, durable, and clear Power of Attorney and Advance Directive in place often leads to the Courthouse where the Judge will appoint a legal Guardian over your affairs.
Guardianships are emotionally painful and exponentially more costly than a Power of Attorney. When you call on Rutledge, Aitken to assist you with your Will, we will urge you to allow us to prepare a valid Power of Attorney and Advance Directive as part of our engagement.
We are committed to understanding each client’s unique challenges, needs and objectives, and implementing a planning solution that addresses each of them, while incorporating the best tax-planning opportunities.
Careful consideration is given to the seamless transition of the closely-held business, uninterrupted access to income, and the preservation and management of assets for children, grandchildren and future generations.
The depth of our experience has helped business owners, executives, physicians, farmers, and other individuals create the necessary structure to implement their goals.
Probate, Estate & Trust Administration
The handling and administration of a decedent’s probate estate, non-probate estate, or trusts can be daunting and difficult. The Personal Representative or Trustee faces a complex maze of rules, regulations and laws.
Legal pitfalls confront the unwary fiduciary attempting to handle the estate or trust. Unfortunately, complying with the burdens of federal and state income taxes, and inheritance and estate taxes makes the challenge that much harder.
We help our clients overcome these challenges by providing legal advice and guidance tailored to the specific needs of each estate or trust.
Our attorneys at Rutledge | Aitken have substantial experience in handling estates of all sizes, from the statutory Small Estate to a Regular Estate, from estates with no death tax liabilities to large estates and trusts with a wide array of assets and liabilities, including complex business and real estate issues.
In addition to serving as counsel to a Personal Representative or Trustee, George A. Aitken and James B. Rutledge, III frequently serve as co-trustees of trusts, and are well-versed in the work required to perform the tasks of trust administration, such as marshaling assets, resolving disputed claims, filing protective motions and petitions in court if needed, preparing periodic accountings, providing tax analysis, preparing or overseeing the preparation of fiduciary tax returns, and guiding the proper disbursement and distribution of funds.
Our experience in these matters, coupled with our experience with the local courts and tax authorities, are focused to streamline and simplify the estate and trust administration process for our clients.
Estate, Gift, & Fiduciary Taxation
Maryland residents continue to face substantial death tax liabilities. For beneficiaries who are not closely related to the decedent, Maryland imposes an Inheritance Tax of a flat rate of 10% on all probate or non-probate inheritances to any beneficiary who receives more than $1,000. The Maryland Inheritance Tax is not a tax on the wealthy; instead, it is a tax on simply passing your estate or retirement account to a dear friend or favorite niece or nephew.
The Maryland Estate Tax is a tax imposed on the transfer of assets on death to anyone other than a surviving spouse, and it impacts all estates and trusts, both probate and non-probate, that have taxable assets that exceeds the Maryland Estate Tax Exemption. Many do not realize that this Maryland Tax reaches IRA’s, 401K’s, Qualified Retirement Plan Assets, and Life Insurance (unless the Life Insurance has been properly placed in an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust).
The Federal Estate and Gift Tax law has undergone dramatic changes in the last two decades and continue to be the focus of annual proposed legislation. Our attorneys keep current with tax law changes and are ready to craft an estate plan to meet this ever-changing landscape.
Fiduciaries, Personal Representatives, and Trustees must be aware of the income tax obligations arising out of estate and trust administration. We provide our clients with estate and gift tax advice, and under the direct supervision of George A. Aitken, offer preparation of individual income tax, estate tax, and gift tax returns. For clients who prefer to use their CPA to provide those services, we coordinate with a team approach to providing quality service.
Rutledge|Aitken makes recommendations for clients to use reliable and established methods of structuring trust provisions and lifetime gifting that can reduce, minimize, or defer death tax liabilities. We strive to reduce the heavy burden of tax issues to manageable solutions that give our clients peace of mind.
A detailed explanation of the Maryland Inheritance, the Maryland Estate Tax and Federal Gift and Estate Tax are well beyond the scope of this website. Whether you are planning for your estate, or are handling the estate or trust of a decedent, our attorneys can assist you in planning for or complying with these important death tax issues that face Marylanders and those who own real estate in Maryland.
At Rutledge|Aitken we believe it is essential that our clients fully understand all the components of the process they are undertaking. These educational materials are intended to start that process by providing a sketch of the information upon which to build.
You May Contact Us Directly
14346 Jarrettsville Pike, Suite 300
Phoenix, MD 21131
Phone: (410) 628-0050
PO Box 395
Phoenix, MD 21131